Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Rob Rebholz from SpaceWays.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
SpaceWays is an on-demand storage service. Instead of having to find or buy storage boxes, haul them into a ute, and take them all the way to a lock-up yourself, we do all that for you. We drop off industrial grade storage boxes, pick them up again, store them, and also redeliver (within 24 hours) once you want your stuff again. You can store almost anything you don't have room for, such as books, documents, suitcases, golf bags or surfboards.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
SpaceWays is backed by Rocket Internet, a major global startup incubator. They help us in lots of fields besides the initial funding — mainly expertise and the constant exchange of ideas and manpower. Here in Australia, SpaceWays is part of the Asia Pacific Internet Group, a joint venture of Rocket Internet and Ooredoo. It's a great affiliation for us — Rocket is responsible for getting some of Australia most successful web companies off the ground. So they have massive experience in running sophisticated operations on a high scale. Storage is a very operations-heavy business — you really have to know what you're doing!
What's the biggest challenge facing your business?
The biggest challenge when we enter in a new market is always to build trust — we have to make sure that Sydney-siders know that not a single item will ever get lost with us. This is where we differ from e-commerce companies — when you order a pair of shoes online and it gets lost in the post, the company can simply ship off a new pair. This is a luxury we don't have — we store some of our customers' most precious belongings that can't be replaced once lost. That's why we've put very strict processes, guidelines and advanced IT systems have in place. This, combined with dedicated drivers, a CCTV-monitored warehouse and further safety measures is the reason we haven't yet lost a single item.
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
SpaceWays is actually the first on-demand storage service here in Sydney. Compared to the traditional self-storage providers, we provide a higher level of flexibility and convenience. Self-storage companies usually don't offer storage by the box — instead customers have to rent an entire storage unit. At SpaceWays, people only have to pay for the space they actually use. Our free pickup service also saves people a lot of time and effort (and cost, for those that would have to hire a vehicle) in transporting their belongings to a storage facility. Since we save on real estate costs by not requiring warehouses located close to expensive inner city areas, we're able to keep our prices down.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
Asana is one of the best project management tools out there and I use it all the time. Whether it's the web application or the mobile app, asana enables me to communicate and manage tasks with my team, gives me an overview of where we stand and what we need to tackle next. This is especially important since I travel so much and have to split my time between Sydney, Berlin, Chicago, London, Paris and Toronto.
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
Never surrender: embrace uncertainty and have a clear vision of where you want to go. For a lot of people it's tough not having a very clear idea where they will stand in, say, three or six months. But as an entrepreneur you need to accept the fact that things will always go differently than planned — while at the same time you should have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and pursue this goal relentlessly.
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